SVMC Launches Critical Care Paramedic Service

21 April 2011
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Kevin Robinson

BENNINGTON — Several area rescue squads are now offering a higher level of service thanks to a partnership with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. The squads now offer critical care paramedic service, which allows them to transport patients with a wider range of conditions.

“SVMC’s emergency department is quickly able to stabilize many patients in emergencies,” explained Dr. Daniel Perregaux, and emergency room physician and the medical director of EMS District 12. “In some situations, however, we need to transport patients to a larger, tertiary medical center in our area. Having critical care paramedics means we can stabilize and transport critically ill patients much faster.”

The new program launched in early March. Prior to that, transporting a critically ill patient required a physician or a nurse to ride along in the ambulance. For example, patients attached to life-saving equipment such as water-seal chest tubes, feeding tubes, or infusion pumps, will no longer have to wait for an available nurse or doctor for transport to a larger hospital.

“We have a busy hospital,” Perregaux explained. “At times it can be very difficult to free up a nurse or a physician to transport patients. With a critical care paramedic, we can provide rapid transport for patients requiring critical care without shifting staff around or calling someone in for a transport.”

The area already has eight paramedics who are certified for critical care. To become certified applicants first must be certified paramedics. Then, they must take an additional 40 hours of training in which they study critical care paramedic techniques.

“The paramedics study techniques for transporting patients on pressure infusion pumps, water-seal chest tubes, nasogastric tubes, foley catheters, and ventilators,” added Perregaux, who also oversees training for emergency medical personnel in EMS District 12. “This training ensures that the paramedics understand the variety of medical devices that SVMC uses to transport critical patients.”

The Bennington Rescue Squad provides most of the critical care paramedic transfer from SVMC. However, critical care paramedics also are available from Manchester Rescue Squad and Village Ambulance in Williamstown. SVMC plans to hold an additional training course for local paramedics in May.

“We would like to have 12 to 15 critical care paramedics available in EMS District 12,” Perregaux explained. “So we will continue to hold training courses to help us reach that goal.”

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC). SVHC includes the VNA & Hospice of SVHC, the Centers for Living & Rehabilitation, the SVMC Deerfield and Northshire Campuses, as well as Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center.